Pirates Interested in Justin Upton

Yesterday we heard from Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports that the Pittsburgh Pirates were interested in Carlos Quentin and Shane Victorino. Today, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports is reporting that the Pirates are also interested in Justin Upton.

Upton is considered one of the best young players in the game. He’s also under team control through the 2015 season. Morosi mentions that Upton would cost a lot, and that the question is whether Neal Huntington would part with the necessary pieces. To get an idea of what Upton would cost, let’s look at his trade value.

Justin Upton Trade Value

Year Salary WAR FA Value Surplus Value
2012 $6,750,000 5.0 $25,200,000 $6,600,000
2013 $9,750,000 5.0 $25,200,000 $15,500,000
2014 $14,250,000 5.0 $25,200,000 $11,000,000
2015 $14,500,000 5.0 $25,200,000 $10,700,000
TOTAL $45,250,000 20.0 $100,800,000 $48,700,000

Upton is coming off a year where he put up a 6.4 WAR. However, he hasn’t played up to that level in 2012, with a 1.0 WAR. Considering his talent and age (he’s only 24, so he’s not close to his peak), I put his value at a 5.0 WAR per year. He averaged about 4.8 in his previous three seasons, so I feel that’s fair. In the chart above his 2012 value is pro-rated for a July 31st trade. His total value also includes an extra $5 M for compensation picks, as Upton would be the type of player to get picks under the new system.

The price is pretty high, although not the “sell your entire farm system” level, as Upton is getting ready to enter the heavy lifting stage of his contract. The Pirates would absolutely have to give up one of their top prospects to get Upton, if not more than one. Baseball America recently rated Gerrit Cole in the top ten, Jameson Taillon number 15, and Starling Marte and Alen Hanson in the top 40. According to Kevin Creagh’s recent prospect trade values research, that gives the following values.

Cole: $26.7 M

Taillon: $18.89 M

Marte: $18.12 M

Hanson: $18.12 M

Morosi mentions that the Pirates seem to be more likely to deal Taillon than Cole, as Cole is closer to the majors. But even if you deal Taillon, you’re still looking for $30 M in prospect value. After you get out of the top 100 prospects, the price of a Grade B pitcher is $7.3 M, and a Grade B hitter is $5.5 M. But I doubt Arizona would take one top prospect and a bunch of nickel and dime prospects for Upton.

The Pirates would likely have to give up one of Marte or Hanson, in addition to Taillon, to get Upton. That would still leave about $12 M in trade value, which means one of the Indianapolis left-handers, and someone like Robbie Grossman or Gregory Polanco. I’ve already seen people ask if Jose Tabata would be appealing to Arizona. At this point, with Tabata in Triple-A, I don’t think he’d have much trade value. The fact that Pirates fans would easily get rid of him in a deal says all you need to know about his value to other teams.

The Pirates have the prospects to pull off a deal, but the price would be very high. In the short-term they’d have an amazing outfield with two of the top young players in the game. But in the long-term this could look like the deal that sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta, and sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to Texas.

  • john.alcorn
    July 9, 2012 12:14 pm

    One other thing to consider – for his career Upton at home .924 ops, on the road .744 ops.
    Follow the TB model, not the Milwaukee one.

  • I don’t think Upton getting injured would “be it.” Almost any injury would put him out for a year at most, then he’d still be around for three more. I think we all have the mindset that big moves are scary because for the last 20 years they’ve all gone terribly for the Bucs, but that isn’t the norm and the truth is the Pirates would have better odds of getting big production from Upton than they would of ever getting big production from either Taillon or Marte (though they both have pretty good odds, too). Upton’s about as much of a guarantee as baseball has to offer, especially in a young player. The cost is huge, but the reward is too, with the difference being that the reward is also proven. The Teixeira deal, while a good example, is about as common a result as the Jason Bay deal. We could also look back on this in 5 years and see Marte be the next Brandon Moss, Taillon be a Bryan Morris, Grossman be Andy LaRoche, and Justin Wilson be the next Craig Hansen. We just don’t know. And that’s what makes trades risky and exciting: the potential to look back and see it as a huge win or a huge loss. The flaw in that thinking is that NOT making the deal when it’s available has the exact same possible outcomes in reverse. If all of our prospects bust, we’ll all forget to look back at the time when we could have sold high on them and gotten JUSTIN UPTON! Likewise, if they all succeed, we won’t remember to look back and breathe a sigh of relief that they weren’t shipped away for one guy. The risk is big either way, but freezing out of fear to make a move isn’t somehow less risky than making a trade. If anything, you know what you’re getting with Upton. We have far less of an idea what will happen with the prospects that are already in our system.
    PS, I know that the industry has attached some kind of arbitrary $5MM/WAR value to say what people cost, but I don’t think Upton would really pull $25MM/year on the open market. Jacoby Ellsbury had 9.4 WAR last year: show me someone dumb enough to suggest he’d make $47 million a year. I’ve always found that calculation very misleading (though the prospect values might be similarly inflated, rendering that issue pointless).

    • And I’m not even saying I would definitely do it, I’m just saying let’s not be too afraid to think big and make big moves. This would cost a ton, but it wouldn’t decimate our farm system. We would still have Gerritt Cole, Mark Appel, and Luis Heredia as potential aces. We would still have 2 major league ready lefty arms at AAA. We would still have a handful of very toolsy hitters in WV, and a new crop coming from the GCL. If the D’backs want too much, don’t do it. But if they’re willing to take some of the lesser halves of this discussion (Taillon instead of Cole, maybe Willy Garcia instead of Hanson or Polanco…) I think the Pirates need to think very hard about what it means to say no. Think of it this way: If Upton were already on the team and our farm system was weaker and someone offered you Taillon, Owens, Marte, and Grossman for him in the middle of a pennant race, would you even consider accepting? Probably not.

  • I wouldn’t touch Upton with a ten foot pole, let alone give up Marte.
    Victorino would be perfect for the Pirates for the rest of the year and with much less given up.

    • Lol. Yeah… who wants a guy who had an MVP caliber season last year when you can have a guy who strikes out 150 times a year in the minors… imagine when he’s dealing with a Halladay sinker or an 0-2 curveball from Wainwright. I’m not saying he’s going to be terrible in the pros, but people are WAY too high on this kid. I’m excited about him in comparison to Tabata, Presley, Sutton, etc – but in comparison to an elite talent like Upton? Give me a break…

      • john.alcorn
        July 9, 2012 11:54 am

        Marte has never K’d more than 100 times in a season. The issue with him isn’t K rate, but rather BB rate, which has improved.
        BTW, how elite has Upton been this year?

        • You need to check your stats on Marte again…he most certainly has. And if he Ks 120 times in 500 MLB at bats, then I shiver at what that means when he’s facing Halladay, Garza, Kershaw or Strasburg instead of the weak AAA pitching.

          And Upton has been fine. Obviously not the start someone would hope for, but a .317 average over his least month and starting to hit for extra bases a lot more. Might have a shoulder injury, but since we’d have him for 3+ years, I’m not exactly willing to scrap the deal because he’s a little banged up. He’s elite and you know it.

        • Alright, I apologize. I thought he had 126 k last year. I think I might be mixing up stats with that Ruggiano for the Marlins since I had done some research on him as well. But still…my point is still the same. Bad plate discipline is a big issue when jumping from the minors to the pros. I’m not worried about his power, as I think that will mature as he does, but overall I just don’t see him being anything more than slightly above average (and only then because of the speed, which he isn’t disciplined on either)…

  • IMO, the only reason AZ would be trading Upton is that they don’t believe his value is greater than the back end of his contract ($14MM in 2014/15, he makes $9MM in 13). And if they don’t think he’s worth it why should the Bucs? Sorry, can’t help but smell a McLouth-like disaster here, only more devastating.

    Get the rental, take your chances with Marte. Deal the pitching in the offseason if needed. Still need a 1b and C for next year, which, IMO are more important going forward.

    Btw, Soriano made one hell of a throw today.

  • Question for all those who would like Upton. Let’s say the dbacks unlike Tim value him closer to the 6.4 WAR he put up last year. A bidding war ensues and the dbacks make an offer of Upton for Cole, Taillon and Marte. Would you take the deal?

    This may sound high but we know multiple teams are interested, the dbacks want players who can help in 2013 and are looking for the perfect package. So given those variables it is possible.

    • No. Just because I don’t think there is any other team out there able or willing to make a similar offer.

      • If no one else is out there able or willing, doesn’t that mean offering Taillon and Marte is offering too much? There must be reason Arizona is talking about moving Upton, so NH needs to be careful not to overpay.

    • @burgh_fan: No, I would not make that deal.

      There has to be a line drawn in the sand — an amount that is deemed to be too much.

      I don’t give up both pitchers plus Marte, and if that was what it too? Upton could stay with the Dbacks and I’ll take my chances with Marte.

  • Maybe NH could get creative and draw SD in to make it a 3 team deal. AZ reportedly would like a 3B if they are going to be a buyer. So maybe they’d still like one, even if they give up Upton. If the rift in the organization is large enough, then it could be a possibility. My proposal would be:

    AZ gets C. Headley, A. Hanson, R. Grossman
    SD gets G. Polanco and maybe Tabata and a lower level pitcher (N. Kingham?) or any of the AAA pitchers (I’d be really flexible on the second/third pieces here)
    PIT gets J. Upton

    I know people say Tabata has no value, but I don’t completely agree with that. He’s had a bad year, but that doesn’t mean he has zero value. He’s still only 23. And his deal is SO team friendly, that he’s cheap even as a 4th OF.

    This would help us keep the top pitchers in the system and Marte, SD would get pieces for the future and AZ gets a big time prospect and an extremely useful MLB player that can help to keep them in contention possibilities now.

    I think it’ll be extremely valuable to keep cheap, controllable pitchers for when Cutch and Upton’s deals get expensive, and Alvarez and Walker get deep into Arb.


    • To tell you the truth – I love it. And I think Headley would be a fantasy beast in Arizona… only problem I see with it is Matt Davidson. Without a DH, I’m not so sure they’d want Headley and Davidson. But if they’d like to send him along with Upton, we’d be glad to take him off their hands lol.

  • Count me in favor too. Suppose we give up Taillon, Marte, Polanco, and Rudy Owens. Our top 5 pitching prospects are then Cole, Heredia, Locke, Wilson, and Appel (if he signs) or Bryan Morris. Our top 5 hitting prospects are Hanson, Bell, Grossman, Sanchez, and Rojas. That’s hardly a barren farm system. And don’t forget Barrett Barnes. In my opinion, the farm system has too much of its value concentrated in OF and pitching, and it’s worthwhile to expend some of that surplus talent to get big-time players.

    • Craig Biddle, you are my hero… perfectly put and I agree 100%. Thank you for not making me the only one who actually thinks we’d be OK without a few of our prospects (even the good ones). Too many on here are saying “Well, take out our top 3 pitchers and top 3 OF and they can’t trade what’s left for Upton, but only if we get Drew too”…. GIve me a break!!!! Takes talent to get talent and when there is a guy like this on the market, who isn’t a rental player, and isn’t 34 years old…JUMP!!

  • Would people be so quick to trade prospects (like Taillion and Bell) if they putting up lights out stats? The bottom line is I don’t feel we need to make a deal that drains the system. I want no part of trading Cole, Taillion, or Heredia.
    I bring up Marte after the break and put him on one of the corners and continue with Presley when he’s ready to go. I’d also like to see the 3 lefties start getting a shot to see what we have for this year.
    If these options don’t pan out, then look outside the system for help.

    • If those options don’t pan out, then you have nothing that anyone outside the system would want. 95% of the time, a prospect’s value is never higher than BEFORE they see the majors. I’m not saying Marte and Taillon would definitely fail as major leaguers – I actually am hopeful of the opposite – but it happens all too often to consider them even a fraction as valuable as a guy who finished 4th in MVP votes last year. To have Upton and McCutchen side-by-side during the prime of their careers is too much of a “sure thing” to pass up on based on our high hopes for a couple minor leaguers.

      I mean as far as prospects go, look back a few years and you’ll see what I mean. Let’s look at 2008’s Top 10 prospects. Sure, at number 5 you’ll see Kershaw and at 6 you’ll see David Price – but at #2 is Clay Buchholz, #4 is Joba Chamberlain, #9 is Homer Bailey and #10 is Rick Porcello. Some decent names, I’ll give ya that, but I guarantee their respective owners would swap them for Justin Upton in a heartbeat. So 4 of the top 6 pitching prospects of 2008 are nothing more than “decent” starters in the pros. Could Taillon be the Price or the Kershaw of the class? Sure could….but are you willing to risk Justin Upton to find out?

    • Drains the system is does not. We’d have a ton of good prospects left, and have Upton for 4 years…. crazy to not want it.

  • Tim, I would make a final offer of Taillon, Tabata, Owens, Grossman. If that doesn’t get it done, then so be it. We can go after Victorino or Quentin and not need to give up nearly as much. What would be your absolute highest package you would give up for Upton?

    • I could live with this.

      • Me too… but I’d give as much as Taillon, Marte, Owens…. probably could even be talked into more if it were make or break. I just have seen too many “top prospects” come and go to not rather have a guy who finished 4th in MVP votes at age 23.

  • Way too high of a price. If you can get him cheaply, of course take him.

    • That’s just silly. Do you even realize how small of a percentage of prospects reach the “level” that Justin Upton is? I’ve said it a coupe times elsewhere, but the kid finished 4th in MVP votes as a 23 year old. This is against major league pitching, not the Sally League or even AAA where 9 times outta 10 you’re facing a pitcher who will never get a cup of coffee in the majors.

      • john.alcorn
        July 9, 2012 12:00 pm

        FYI its 2012, not 2011. Upton is hurt and isn’t hitting and the whole point would be to help us now. If Upton was playing like 2011 right now, I may be more interested.
        You really want to trade the farm for the potential of 15 WAR at $38 million? I wager we could spend that money on a free agent or two (or trade pickup like AJ) and get 9-12 WAR plus the chance that any one of our 4 prospects we would give up could reach their potential.
        These types of trades rarely seem to go well for the team getting the “star”.

        • Yeah, he might have a shoulder injury… and his stats right now are pretty ugly when compared to what he would normally put up, but even his current stats are as good and/or better than what we’d get from a Quentin or Victorino… and seeing as over the last month Upton is back to hitting .317 with a few homers and a couple dozen RBI, I think the whole “2012 version of Upton” thing is getting overplayed. He’s an elite star who we’d be able to have through his prime. He’s as good as, if not better, than McCutchen. He’d be worth every penny of that money, just as I didn’t hear anyone complaining when we finally paid Cutch. With those two in the middle of our lineup for the next 4 years, we won’t only be good offensively, but also attract other good players to want to play here. We’d obviously be a little limited on who we could go after with our money being tied up, but we’d still be able to get the AJ type (but cheaper) each year to give our rotation a boost. We have more than enough talent in the minor leagues to give up Taillon and more and still have a solid farm. Will it be as great? Of course not… but I’ll take a proven elite superstar for 4 years of his prime over a couple of prospects, the better of which is pitching extremely mediocre at Class-A… I love Taillon, but this is a chance that doesn’t come around too often. The last one I can really remember was the Miggy deal, and even then Detroit robbed them blind.

        • And I couldn’t disagree more that these types of trades don’t go well for the team getting the star. 9.9 of every 10 prospects never pans out… not to be a starter in the pros at least… you look back at most of those 5 for 1 deals and usually only one name of the 5 prospects sticks out and that’s because he had a cup of coffee in the pros. There are exceptions to every rule, sorta like the Andrus trade referenced in the article, but most times teams are lucky if they get a single player who plays more than a season in the pros….

    • john.alcorn
      July 9, 2012 9:53 am

      It seems that folks are not considering the money involved. $38 million over the next three years could be used to fill a lot of holes too. Its not just Upton vs prospects. Its Upton vs. prospects and $38 million in payroll that could be used elsewhere.
      I’d much rather stick with Marte, Tabata, Presley, Grossman, Jones as OF’s and spend elsewhere.
      Even short term, Upton’s shoulder is likely to prevent him from helping us much at all this season. If his ISO is .128 in that park it won’t be pretty here.

  • Something is wrong with Upton, so there should be some type of discount. How about Tabata, Owens, Bell, Polanco, and Grossman? That’s a nice combination of ML ready talent and potential without giving up a top 5 talent.

    • For Upton, the Pirates would have to give up at least one top prospect.

      • Shouldn’t Bell be considered a top prospect? He’s just a long way away. Fangraphs has him as number 2 in the system. You have him number 5 if you don’t count Appel. I’m of the mind Marte and Taillon is too much.

        • Bell wasn’t in the top 50. If we consider him a top 100 prospect, then he’s got about $10 M in trade value. Plus he’s injured and struggled with changeups prior to his injury.

          • Don’t most people rank Bell at around number 70?

            • That was pre-season.

              • Eh, Bleacher Report has their mid-way rankings up and Bell is #50… I’ll be interested to see where some of the others have him, but they are usually pretty dead-on with BA and the others.

                • My thinking is, to get a guy like Upton, we have to give up one top prospect, 2 – 2nd tier guys and either an MLB player or a pretty decent lower level guy to get him.

                  I would do whatever is necessary to NOT give up Marte and our outfield would be Upton, McCutchen and Marte. THAT is a sick outfield!

                  I would be willing to do something with Taillon(provided we sign Appel) and a Rudy Owens or Jeff Locke and Robbie Grossman. That would leave either an MLB player(Tabata, Presley, McGehee, Jones type) or a decent lower level guy like G, Polanco or Von Rosenberg.

                  THAT could get the deal done, we replace Taillon with Appel, we only lose 1 of our lefties, we deal a guy who may not have room on the team eventually and a current or other guy we probably would never miss.

          • Taillon, Grossman, Tabata/Bell, Kingman, and Hanrahan for Upton and Drew? I think you HAVE to take a shot at getting Upton (if his medicals check out). If you can do it by keeping Marte, great. The chance at a Cutch, Upton, Marte OF is crazy!

            I really really like Taillon, but if he can help land a Justin Upton…you HAVE to do it. I also like the idea of taking a shot at Drew as well.
            We would still have: Cole, Appel (?), Heredia, Owens, Locke, Wilson, Hanson, Polanco, and many others. Would it hurt? Yes. But I think you’d be crazy NOT to do it.
            Include Marte OR Bell, but not both.

            • If Arizona is dealing Upton, I don’t think they’re looking to get back a closer with one year of control who will likely make $7-8 M next year.

              • Good point on Hanny. IF you were to do it, what would YOUR proposal look like?

              • Definitely not. Especially since I think they have an option on Putz next year that’s fairly reasonable.

            • Beautifully put. I agree 100%. It’s something we have to do, if we’re able to. Our pitching is deep enough that if we take the main hit there, we’ll be alright.

      • Marte, Owens, Grossman, and Morris… refuse to give up any of our top 3 pitching prospects as other teams do it all the time in the new MLB. In the offseason, the Reds gave up the following for Mat Latos (Volquez, Grandal, Alonso, and Boxberger) and the only reason they gave up that much was they had better options at/near the ML level in Mesaraco, Votto, and Chapman (plus their FA closer who ended blowing out his arm) plus Volquez was talented but a head case. IMO, Latos has more value than Upton given his top of the rotation potential/capability.

        • And a guy who hits 30 HR, steals 20+ bags and hits around .290 at age 23 isn’t as valuable as Latos? Please pass along whatever you are smoking because I need some badly.

    • Bell, Polanco, and Hanson and the top 3 pitching prospects (heredia, taillon, cole) should be the ones off limits, anybody and everybody after that should be ok to trade in the right combo

      • We’re talking about getting a player who is 24 years old and finished 4th in the MVP votes last year. We’d be getting him thru his prime…. a 5-tool talent, middle of the order bat. If you truly think taking 6 of our top 10 prospects off the board is going to get a deal done, you’re insane. I’d give up Taillon/Marte and a 10-20 prospect in a heartbeat to get this kid.

  • These commenters are crazy. Marte and Taillon are too much for Upton? Two guys who have never seen a major league pitch (or faced a major league hitter in Taillon’s case)? I love our minor league system as much as anyone, but don’t let Marte’s AAA numbers fool you. He’s still very much so a liability at the plate. I honestly think if he got 550 AB next year, it’d look something like this: 13 homers, 20 SBs, 65 RBI, 75 runs and a .250 (if lucky) batting average. Sure, he’d have the opportunity to increase those numbers as the years went by, but Justin Upton is 24. I know he’s been around forever, but we’d be getting him in his prime of all primes. We’re a hitter away from competing this year, and I don’t know about you, but I’d take success over the next 3-4 years over the possibility of success AFTER 3-4 years. Plus, we could then try harder to sign Appel, seeing as we’d need him even more. That’d give us Cole and Appel to add to an already above-average pitching staff and bullpen. We’d be crazy not to try as hard as we can for this to happen.

    • Have you ever seen Marte?

      • Have you ever seen his plate discipline? Imagine once he was facing Zach Greinke and Matt Garza instead of the guys in AAA….

        • Yes, I have. And he’s not exactly a free swinger.

          I don’t think you’ve actually seen him play.

          • Well I have… but I don’t even think that matters much since I wouldn’t claim to be a master scout just by watching the guy. I’ve seen him play and I’ve studied the stats. I’d be excited to have him in the pros, but if we could have Justin Upton instead of him? C’mon… Upton is only a year older than Marte and has already shown that he can do it at the major league level. Marte strikes out 20-23% of the time against minor league pitching! He’s impatient and streaky… I think if he could stay in the minors long enough, he’d probably work out a lot of the kinks and be a little above average in the major leagues, but again… nothing like Upton. And if it costs Taillon and him (plus probably another familiar face as well, possibly at the MLB level), I still think it’s well worth it.

            • If it’s a comparison between Upton and Marte, then I absolutely take Upton. But if you’re also giving up Taillon, an Indianapolis left-hander, and a borderline top 100 outfield prospect, I don’t do it. Just not a price the Pirates should pay.

              • Duplicate post – sorry.

                • i don’t think they could afford a free agent pitcher while paying Upton’s remaining salary, plus Mccutchen, plus the arbitration prices for guys like Alvarez and McDonald.

                  As for jersey sales, teams don’t get those. They’re divided among all teams. Ticket sales might go up, but they’d go up if the Pirates were winning without Upton, which I think they could do.

                  The team doesn’t seem to have a problem scoring runs right now. And a big reason they were winning early in the season without offense was because of their pitching. So I’d be hesitant to deal a top pitching prospect, plus a major league ready left-hander, along with two top outfield prospects.

                  • Garret Jones and Casey McGehee won’t always be doing this… to say we don’t have a problem scoring runs is just silly. I realize we’ve gone on a nice little streak, but a run producer is obviously what we need, moreso than pitching.

                    And I’m not talking about bringing in a Hamels or Greinke… but another Bedard/Burnett (though probably cheaper than Burnett) type to fill out the rotation with some veteran leadership. We only got Bedard because he’s injured every year, and we only got Burnett because the Yankees needed rid of him. Having Upton over an average rookie OF would give us the leverage to say “Come here, we’re trying to win”… other than the message we’ve been sending for 20 years of “If we’re not winning soon, we’re selling the farm and pocketing the money”…

                    I think we both can agree that things are looking better than they have in a very long time. And with that comes a certain dependance on in-house talent to come up and be what we expect them to be. But let’s face it, even top prospects are a crapshoot. Pitching prospects, especially… so while I love Taillon and would anxiously await his arrival if he’s here, I’m also down to earth enough to realize that if you can have a proven superstar over a couple of prospects, you should do it. Especially when our track record with prospects is as bad as it is….(thanks Littlefield!)

                  • We have a few more weeks to figure out what to do which is good but I don’t see a need to go crazy and give up Taillon. Taillon is a rare talent no matter how much pitching depth we think we have. Still, it would be great to fire a preemptive strike on Cinci & the Cards and get Upton and really put some pressure on them. Upton has underachieved, and K’s about once a game and steals at under a 70% rate so he has his flaws. It is easy to site his age as a certainty that he will improve but he has 2400 AB to show what he is…and he has the precedent of his brother being a habitual under achiever also. Marte keeps improving his eye at the plate slowly and hit .330 in the eastern league and now near .300 in the international league…and everywhere else he has played. Plus his power is increasing so tough to say he is going to be a .250 hitter with average power like someone said on here does not make a lot of sense to me. I feel like Marte’s upside is an offensive player like Alfonso Soriano but who plays defense…problem is his downside could be something like Juan Encarnacion who impressive tools but only had a .750 OPS for his career because he got himself out by repeatedly swinging outside the strike zone. Still, an Encarnacion type player is not too bad. Personally, I am torn so I am just throwing a few points out there. When I look back at the last 30 years I have been following the Bucs I cannot name one elite pitcher we have ever had. We had real good runs from Drabek, Smiley, Rick Reuschel a few years, but not much else. That is proof of how hard it is to develop an ace starter.

                    • A habitual under achiever who has 30+ HR, 20+ SB and a .289 BA in his age 23 season? I know what you mean, but c’mon… if that’s not a “rare talent” than I don’t know what is. Taillon looks terrific, but so did Joba Chamberlain, Homer Bailey, Rick Porcello, Andrew Miller, Adam Miller, etc etc etc… it’s just too hard to tell at this point in his career how he’ll be against major league hitters. I’d take the guy who’s proven at the MLB level over an “ace starter” who is pitching in Class-A (FSL)… with an ERA over 4 and an absolutely pathetic K/9 to boot!

                      I’m not trying to pick on Jameson – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I’m as big of a supporter and optimist as there is when it comes to his future, but the fact remains that more often than not, guys just like him never even see the show, or once they do are exposed for what they really are (whether it be long relievers, 4th or 5th starters, or even worse: Quad-A players). If we were talking about getting a 2-month rent-a-player for Taillon, I’d be right there with ya. Or even if we were discussing a deal that would net us a proven guy with an option year who is 29 or 30… but we’re talking about a 24 year old stud who “underperformed” to the tune of MVP-type numbers last year. To have him throughout his age 27 season is just too good to pass up on. I’m sorry – there are a ton of instances where I’d be right there with you, fighting to keep our prospects, but this is just definitely not one of them. These kind of deals come around once a decade (see: Miguel Cabrera).

                  • Teacher_in_Tejas
                    July 8, 2012 11:35 pm

                    Tim, are you sure about the shirt and souvenier revenue? This isn’t the NFL where the Cowboy and Steeler revenue get shared with Cleveland and St. Louis! I thought this was one of the revenue imbalances of MLB, like local tv revenue!

                    • Yes. Merchandise goes to the league, and is divided up. The Pirates don’t benefit from Upton jersey sales any more than they do with Upton in Arizona.

              • Why? Do you actually think we’d be a better ball-club with Marte out there the next 1 1/2 and then Taillon after that? Think about the bigger picture a little bit. If you were a free agent pitcher deciding between Pittsburgh or another team, wouldn’t the presence of Upton increase the likelihood you pick Pittsburgh? What about jersey sales, ticket sales, promotions… all the things that make Nutting a happy man.Don’t you think Upton would sell more of all of them over the next 5 years than both of the others combined? And frankly, think about what our team need is…. it’s run producers. An Indianapolis southpaw does nothing for putting runs on our scoreboard. He may eventually help keep them off the other team’s scoreboard, but that’s not really our weak point. And again, if we had Cole, Heredia, Owens and maybe Appel to still come up, I don’t think that’d be a problem of the future either. Especially since then the free agent thing comes in handy, even if it’s only a little boost to the chances of pulling in better talent. I just think when everything is added up, a susperstar outfielder, with a name and reputation such as his, helps this franchise much more than what we currently have in the tank. Plus the trade would send a major statement to the rest of the league.

    • Chauncey Jordan
      July 8, 2012 2:11 pm

      Completely agree. Having 2 of the best 10 players in the game in their physical prime is not going to present itself again. Huntington has to consider this.
      Just think where this team was a year and a half ago.

      • Exactly. It’s not that I don’t see the price we’d be paying as a lot… I do. But we have arms in the system. Heredia, Cole, Locke, Owens, etc…and if we could add Appel to that mix? And more importantly, we have a rotation that is doing well and is fairly young itself (other than Burnett and Bedard, obviously). So if one of the best players in the league (who is still only 24… TWENTY FOUR!) can spend his prime hitting beside Cutch & Pedro, I think the high price is well worth it.

        Not to mention that if we have Andrew McCutchen and Justin Upton, free agents will be more willing to come here. Whatever we lose in Taillon could be made up by a free agent seeing an opportunity to win.

        • I agree w/ you totally. If Taillon and Marte are the two pieces to get it done, great. If it guts the system, then no.

    • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
      July 8, 2012 6:39 pm

      Three of the starting five pitchers are over 30. Based on age/performance, I can’t see them being around in two years. Barmes, jones, McGhee? Don’t see them around either. There will be holes to fill around the core. I don’t see this as the time to give up top prospects that will be needed in the next two years.

      • We’d still have Cole, Heredia, Owens, Appel (?), etc… it’s not like without Taillon we’d be completely bare. And we could always draft another college SP who will be a quick riser if need be. Lincoln, while I prefer him in the pen, could even start if we needed it. We’ll be fine without Taillon if it means getting a real run producer like Upton. Plus, you’re forgetting that we’d almost definitely be getting other “over 30” pitchers as free agents. Just as we did with Bedard and Burnett this offseason, and Correia before them. The more we win, the more likely it becomes that we find a decent pitcher willing to sign for a reasonable price to be part of a winning club.

        Don’t get me wrong, I like Taillon a lot. I think he would be an impact major leaguer. But we probably wouldn’t see him until 2014 or so anyway, and I just think we need the All-Star run producer a lot more than him. These kinds of opportunities don’t come around often. And when you can upgrade unproven guys, who won’t really help for a year or two, to a guy who was 4th in MVP votes last year… you do it.

        • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
          July 8, 2012 7:05 pm

          I understand your point, but think Upton will cost too many prospects. Unless…..they can swing a three team trade that sends Hanrahan to Arizona for Upton with a third team providing additional prospects for Hanrahan. I think we have plenty of guys that can close in the organization. Give Arizona Hanrahan and a lower level prospect.

          • I just don’t think the prospects mean as much as you do, I guess. I like some of the guys we have, don’t get me wrong. But our offensive prospects are really lacking. Sure, I like Marte and Bell – but neither are on the same level as even Taillon and Cole let alone the top offensive prospects in baseball. We have depth at pitching and can afford to ship one of our elite prospects to get an elite MLB player. A lot of us view Marte and Bell as being even better than they are, simply because they are the best WE have. But Marte has some pretty glaring holes, and while he may be even a little above average in the majors (and that’s giving a lot), he’ll never be on the same level as Upton. And seeing as Upton is only a year older, I view that as an enormous upgrade. An upgrade so big in fact, that even “tossing in” an elite pitching prospect and some B-level guys would still make it worthwhile. Above and beyond it making us a better club, it would just be good for the Pirates in general. Look how good it’s been for us to know we have Cutch locked up through his prime… just imagine if we had another one of baseball’s elites for his prime as well. 3 1/2 years of Upton – knowing that we’d still have Cole, Heredia, Bell, and other decent prospects – is much more valuable IMO than having Marte and Taillon for 4 or 5 more years (or whatever their entry level contracts are)

  • What about the draft pick lottery on July 16. This is the first year MLB teams can trade that draft pick. If we throw that at Arizona, what value would that be? Would that lessen the players we have to give up?

    • Usually draft picks are only worth $2.5 M. However, if you deal the pick, a team can only spend up to half the pick’s value, if I’m remembering correctly. So that lowers the value a bit.

  • I would do it. Upton is a proven MVP caliber OFer. For all we know JT could blow out his arm and Marte could never figure out the MLB strike zone. Then again, Upton’s rumored bad shoulder could go. But, I’d risk it.

    • I think when you talk about injuries, the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is relevant. Everyone has the potential for injuries. If a prospect gets injured, there’s still three more left. If Upton gets injured, that’s it.

      • This whole Upton talk is fun. You really have folks on both sides of the fence.

        Btw, you and I both know that when you trade for someone you can’t worry about injuries. Besides, our prospects could NOT get injured and ‘flame out’ as AAAA players or worse.

        I do the deal. You don’t want to….

        I love this stuff!!!

  • Upton is not that much better than Marte to sell the farm and take on that payroll hit. They would do well to keep the money, keep the prospects, play Marte, and use it for what they need when the time comes (AJ Burnett, Barajas, and Barmes). You can bet Atlanta would like those guys back they traded for Tex.

    • Chauncey Jordan
      July 8, 2012 1:37 pm

      Marte as good as Upton?
      Come on? Upton hit 31 HR with an OPS of .900 last year as a 23 year old. He was better than Cutch.
      This is similar to Pittsburgh putting Cutch on the market after his poor 2nd half last year. I trust Huntington and admire the fact that he is living in the now.
      Marte hasn’t had a MLB at bat yet….

      • Agreed. Comparing Upton to Marte is just silly. Upton may not be tearing it up this year, but he’s a proven elite superstar whereas Marte (who I like) is a minor leaguer with bad plate discipline. It’s not even close.

      • Sorry I don’t buy it. 27 Mil/2yrs is too much to risk on someone else’s trash that they will need when their current players hit their arbitration years. As Hurdle said on an unrelated issue; “no one trades away a good, productive player”.

        • So when Miguel Cabrera was traded to Detroit, he wasn’t a good, productive player? Upton is under team control thru 2015… so if we got him, he’d be ours for his age 24, 25, 26, 27 seasons. For a guy who finished 4th in the MVP votes last year, I think it’s well worth it.

          • That is because it is easy to spend someone else’s money. The Democratic Party runs on this concept and does quite well.

    • Yeah… it doesn’t usually work out like that Atlanta deal. That was obviously used as an example to sway your opinion. One opposite (and the more common looking) deals that I remember is the Bobby Abreu one. If you remember, he was a beast for the Phillies and continued to be a beast for the Yankees. When the Yankees got him, they gave up: 2005 number one draft pick C.J Henry, hurler Matt Smith, catcher-turned-pitcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios.You may be asking yourself, “WHO??”… don’t worry, so are the Phillies.

  • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
    July 8, 2012 1:20 pm

    I don’t like it. I think we’ll have one of the best outfields in baseball with Marte. No need to trade for Upton and give up top prospects. What about trading Hanrahan for a bat? Any teams out there where we could strike a deal? We have guys that can close. Frankly, I trust Grilli more than I do Hanrahan.

    • Marte is FAR from a sure thing! Upton is a known commodity.

      • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
        July 8, 2012 2:45 pm

        Lee, you are right. I’d prefer though to hold onto our top prospects and take a chance on Marte. I think he will be a star.

        • DPUC….if you want to hold onto Marte, you’re not agreeing with me. I think we should get the sure thing in Upton if it costs us Marte. I think you meant “Lee, you are wrong”.

          I’m NEVER wrong….maybe just ‘not right’ 🙂 🙂

          • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
            July 8, 2012 6:58 pm

            Lol, I should have been more specific. I think you are right that Marte is not a sure thing. 🙂

  • As much as I wouldn’t want to lose Marte, I don’t think it’s such a big deal if acquiring a top notch OF. It would be nice if 1-2 of our 3 AAA LHP’s or somebody like Robbie Grossman could help bring a decent return as the impact that those 4 will likely bring at the MLB level with the talent ahead of them isn’t a deal breaker IMO. I’d much prefer to acquire James Shields if TB decides to sell than Upton though.

  • It would be great to have Justin Upton but Taillon and Marte is too much. Especially considering Marte is on the cusp of the major leagues right now. I would rather give up less and get a guy like Quentin who would cost far less. Still, if we would give up two of our top guys for Upton…I’m not gonna complain about it. Upton batting behind Cutch would be scary.

    • the good upton behind cutch would be scary, this years version not so much

      • Yeah, but it’s 3 months of mediocrity… he’s 24 and playing for a team under .500 – I’m not really worried that he won’t return to being the stud he’s been for most of his career. But with that said, even this year’s version would be an upgrade over Tabata, Presly, Gorkys or Sutton.

    • Who would leadoff and bat 2nd? I am assuming GI is our RFer and Casey at 1b. Walker could bat 2nd, but we have no leadoff guy. Even if Marte comes up, he is no leadoff man.

    • Rumor has it, the price for Quentin is actually pretty steep for what we’d be getting. I mean a 2-month rent-a-player who can’t stay healthy sounds horrible. If it were between that and staying put, sure do it… but giving up two guys who have yet to see an inning in the pros for a guy who was 4th in MVP votes last year sounds a hell of a lot better. Especially considering we’d have Cole and possibly even Appel as the pitchers of the future. The addition of Upton to what we currently have would be absolutely tremendous for this city, its fans and the outlook for the next 4 years.

  • Chauncey Jordan
    July 8, 2012 12:56 pm

    You can’t compare it to the Texiara deal because he was a rental. Upton is under control until 2015.
    Zona would surely want Marte in the deal…….
    It starts with Taillon and Marte. I would want Appel in the fold before doing anything.
    What else could we get from AZ?
    Saunders? drew?

    • Teixeira wasn’t just a rental. He had at least one more year of control remaining. Might have been two. But the point was that the deal could help in the short term, but really benefit the other team in the long term.

      • Chauncey Jordan
        July 8, 2012 1:11 pm

        Well having Upton, arguably one the best 10 players in baseball for the next 3.5 years, is the future to me…..
        Not to mention pairing him with cutch and Pedro would give the Pirates something they haven’t had in 20 years. Huntington is dealing from a position of power in this case. If Appel signs, we would have 4 power right handed arms in the system that all have ace potential. Getting a player of Upton’s caliber is nearly impossible for a team like Pittsburgh unless you bring him thru the system.
        I guess the question is how highly do they view Marte. If he is a superstar in their eyes, then don’t do it,….but Upton is a superstar, even if he may be hurt.

        • The chance of a prospect actually excelling at the major league level is so extremely small, that I agree we should get the sure thing. Sure, the chances are increased when you’re doing well at the top levels and/or ranked as a top prospect, but until you’ve seen time in the majors, the odds are clearly stacked against you. Upton is struggling in terms of what his production should look like, but I don’t think there’s any debate that he’s an elite talent, The man hit 31 HR last year at age 23, was an All-Star and even finished 4th in MVP votes!! If Pittsburgh can get him, there’s not much I wouldn’t give. Especially if the main loss is pitching, where we can afford to take a hit.

      • john.alcorn
        July 9, 2012 9:39 am

        Tex had 1 year of control left and Atlanta certainly regrets that deal where they turned 4 very good talents into Casey Kotchman without making the playoffs.
        At any rate, no on another underachieving Upton. We are not in a place, and likely never will be, where it makes sense to give up 3 top prospects.

    • We could throw in a bag of balls for Drew! Actually he could be a huge piece for the Pirates if he could return to being a .270-280 hitter. He is coming back from the bad injury and they are being very careful with him because, well, he is a Drew and he is made of glass.

  • I think you’re being very generous with the 5 wins per season.

    • I agree — if he is a 4/5/5/4, that takes $10m from his value. Also, for him to earn the Pirates a comp pick wouldn’t they have to tender him a pretty serious offer…? I can’t say I can see the Pirates doing that (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) — it could happen, and it would be a Pirates decision to NOT do it…so I won’t touch that $5m.

      If my WAR calc is more accurate, you’re looking at having to make up $38m in value. $19m from Taillon would leave $19m to make up. Taillon + Marte basically matches dollars. I think Marte has to be part of the deal to satisfy the Dbacks wanting ML-ready talent, but I think you’ll need Taillon vs. 3 or 4 secondary level prospects to pull an Upton deal.

      So even if the 5 WAR is generous, it still won’t change the top-2 pieces that would be required to make this work (IMO).